How to Handle Interruptions Graciously
Written by Phylicia Masonheimer | August 26, 2017
Interruptions: those people, events and responsibilities that stop us from achieving our plans for the day. They are inconvenient and uncomfortable, and if you’re like me, they have a tendency to bring out the worst in your heart.
I often feel justified to get angry about interruptions, particularly if they prevent me from accomplishing my God-given responsibilities at work and home. God couldn’t possibly want me to stop my tasks, could He?
Actually, He could.
Jesus is our best example for how to handle interruptions graciously. If you read the gospels, you’ll see a pattern: Almost every time Jesus did a miracle, particularly healing, He was interrupted while going somewhere or doing something else. In Matthew 9:20-22, Jesus was headed to heal Jairus’ daughter when the hemorrhaging woman touched his robe. She was healed as Jesus was headed to another ministry opportunity.
But while Jesus was busy with her, Jairus’ daughter died. Should Jesus not have delayed? To the contrary, Jesus proved He is sovereign over both interruption and death. He came to Jairus’ daughter and raised her from the dead! This story should encourage us to face interruptions with Jesus’ same grace. If Jesus is able to minister in interruption and still provide life in the face of death, He will provide us the same grace to handle our life responsibilities and the interruptions we meet.
If you struggle with interruptions like I do, here are three questions to ask the next time you face one.
1. Are you making an idol out of busyness?
Western culture celebrates “busy.” She who is busiest is best, as if being overwhelmed is evidence of worth. But being “busy” doesn’t necessarily mean we’re being productive—for God or otherwise. The idol of busyness makes us more task-oriented than gospel-oriented. When interruptions come, we can’t see God’s hand in them. I must constantly ask myself if my tasks have replaced God on the throne of my heart—and interruptions reveal the truth!
2. Are tasks blinding you to the needs of others?
Similarly, an over-focus on our to-do list can blind us to the needs of others. When you get the phone call that a friend’s parent died, or your two-year-old child or sibling is being extra needy, it’s time to stop and think: Which is more important—my task or the people God has given me to love? Of course, we need boundaries and time management; tasks still need to get done! But people matter, too.
3. Are you following Jesus’ model of service?
Finally, ask yourself if you’re following Jesus’ example. Jesus was always able to stop for the needs of others—even on his way to help more people in need! He did this because He knew He had an endless supply of strength, power and time available to Him. He knew He could both heal the hemorrhaging woman and raise Jairus’ daughter. Through Christ, we also have the capacity to fulfill our daily responsibilities and care for the people He puts in our path. But we can’t do this on our own strength. We need to commit our time and our ways to Him, letting Him dictate how they play out hour to hour. Only then can we handle interruption with the grace of Christ Himself.